Sunday, 24 May 2020

My new Italian WW2 Camicie Nere

Gaming buddy WillB needs constant focusing on a project lest he wander off and paint civilians or some such…LOL… see his blog at : link   for his wonderful ‘diversions’

Sooo, I said I would create a suitable opposition to his illustrious Canadians fighting in Sicily during 1943.  Interested in his campaign efforts I found a Too Fat Lardy “codex” for the Italians of that campaign.  It mentions ‘coastal’ and’Blackshirt’ units.  Hmm, as I don’t have Italian figures, what do the Blackshirts look like?  A bit of image viewing prompted me to start on these rather poorly rated soldiers.  I only had plastic American GI torsos available - a gift of bits from KevinA who had rather hacked these at the waist.  Obviously these boys need to be in trenches to hide the rather distressing fact they had no legs.  Arms literally (!) had to searched for in my bits box found from such varied sources as US, Zulu, Napoleonic and 18th century….  But the real prompt was the Blackshirt use of the black fez with tassel.  I have a box of plastic Zouaves from which I could take the fez and still leaving a turbaned version for their use.  Bonus.
Italian Blackshirt soldier

That was Sunday of last week.  So, still working full time and all the other distraction of life, I had a rushed time frame.  The scraping, manipulation, gluing and painting of the plastic was done, trenches quickly built, barbed wire areas speedily created.  I knew I could use the maximum number of the latter allowed in the rules as the poor Blackshirts had a minimum of an extra +8 support points (!) to be taken in the required entrenchments and these new barbed wire emplacements. In the Chain of Command rules, the attacker rolls for support points and the defender gets half of these with the difference in strengths added.  Between WillB and myself, poor dice rolling seems to be the norm so I got only one more point which was not enough for the sniper I had available.  Nevertheless, the barbed wire did prove very useful to funnel Will’s attack toward my ‘killing ground’ in front of my trenches.  But I get ahead of myself.

All this preparation was kept from Will as I wanted to to surprise him militarily with this unknown enemy.  The scenario had a translator provide this information taken from a villager to his colonel:

“ The shirts of black infest our (town) with sharp string and holes of ferrets.”

We gave no real concept to the terrain and simply put pieces down with only a bit of thought to position and function.  Will started with a farm house in a stone walled courtyard but ended up placing all but the largest of his buildings.  I think it was so he could place his colourful new Sicilian civilians about on the table. (grin).   That was fine as my backstory to the Blackshirts rather poor position outside the village was that they THOUGHT they were getting support from the local German garrison but these had been order away without informing the Italians!  The civilians were thus ‘in the streets’ celebrating their departure.  Nevertheless, Will’s orders are to take the crossroads at the town.  My Blackshirts’ duty was to stop them.

The patrol phase of Chain of Command is interesting and a bit tricky as, if played wrong, could limit your deployment choices and we are both rather inexperienced with the rules.  I had the added problem that, with the necessity of being in entrenchments, my forces would not desire to deploy behind walls or such. I still didn't want to give too much away to spoil the surprise for Will.
My Blackshirts would end up in a bottom of a slight depression between two ridges in farm land to await the Canadians appearing on the rise in front of them.  Will used his support points in a pre-game barrage which would have me roll of units if units would indeed arrive and me, more often that not, failing to bring in my leaders or units until turns later.
My rather ad-hoc Blackshirt contingent.

Green troops in the rules really suffer (rightfully) with less command dice, shorter jump-off ranges and can suffer greater casualties.  We started calling them "kermits" as in Kermit the Frog with his "It's not easy being green" phrase....

WillB avoided the barbed wire and a direct assault on the village and so was forced to attack frontally but helped by the hillock between my entrenchments and his line of attack - again, a result of the patrol/deployment part of the rules. The hillock also blocks line of sight for his supporting troops and his favourite tactic of laying smoke, lots of smoke, suffered from accuracy and so did not get the perfect effect he hoped to achieve.  But while only somewhat limiting the fire from my entrenched Italians, it did stay around.  Smoke only dissipates on the end of ‘a turn’ and for three successive games now, neither of us, let alone me, has rolled the required three sixes to do so, with the result that we only play “one turn” a game and the hiding smoke remains.
WillB likes his smoke rounds but without line of sight they sometime even land on his troops!
Nevertheless I could do some shooting and even going ‘tactical’ (shown by Will’s unique markers which have copious shrubbery on them — going tactical in the open effectively has the unit be like they were in light cover i.e. behind shrubbery…) my first round of fire was quite good….this would of course fall off during the game with my impotent firing dice.

Will's Canadians engage in hand-to-hand with my Italians
The rather shiny barbed wire in the background at least forced Will to go in front of my position.  The best I could hope for.  Being 'green' troops, the Blackshirts cannot be expected to give too much resistance.  However forcing the Canadians to engage in direct attacks would mean the Canadians would suffer huge casualties.
The final Canadian assault 

 However, mounting casualties from Italian fire and the dropping sun had him do risky frontal charges, which while costly, did force the Italians from their trenches and have them vanish into the countryside.  The Italian Force Morale was close to zero, all the leaders dead or wounded and only one command remained - my only recently deployed unit - I could do little to change the outcome.
The crossroads would be taken.

Don’t know how much use my new Blackshirts will be in any future games, but it was a inexpensive (read: nil cost!) and rather short timeframe foray into WW2 Sicily.
You can read Will's blog here for his version of this 'battle'.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Wading ashore

"I truly hope that puddle on the floor is from the ocean and not from your crotch, Kowalski!" intoned the tank commander to his loader.  But even he couldn't wait to get to the beach before thoughts of sinking entombed in this hunk of metal overcame him......

WillB, made his beautiful WW2 Sherman tank with a Rubicon kit which offers MANY variations. (link: Will's build )

Of course this leaves some extra bits left over.  Two of which were a hull (top only) and turret with a spare gun.  "Perhaps you might model a dug-in tank or something" he said as he offered the parts to me - he knows I enjoy the creative thought process of how to 'justify' any of it on the tabletop.   I thought about it for sometime and finally watched some video of the tanks in action and expert modellers employing some techniques to make it look convincing:  the tank in water, perhaps wading in on shore on a Pacific island beach.  Do I have a US Pacific War army? No.  Not even planning to have one which will be surprising to people who know me ....

While I did watch the various expert modellers display their talents, they make it look so easy.  All I have to say is don't stare too long or hard at MY model!

P.S.  Photographed on my new "Island" neoprene mat.  And yes, from personal experience, tropical waters can be that colour!
P.S.S  This makes two recent posts where only the top half of 'submerged' models.  Hmm. But I do stick my head in the water while I swim nevertheless.....

Sunday, 26 April 2020

The Army of Major Might

Will Bailie, a wargaming buddy of mine has his focus on the Indian/Afghan area for some time now and has created his own imagiNation world of a Indian Sub-continent land called Jhamjar (yes, like jam jar... so lots of "food you put on toast" puns possible among others).  He put out a call for local fellow gamers to add a contingent should they wish within the confines of era and geography.  (Link: Jhamjar explained )

 As I had some Boers laying about "without a home" , I decided to quickly base them for the task.
The following is my contingent's tongue-in-cheek backstory:

Major(recently retired)V.G.Might, late of the South African forces stationed in the Sinai at the end of the First World War, did not want to go back to Pretoria.  He felt many of his (former) command felt likewise.  Victor Might was dissolutioned fighting an ‘Imperial War”.  A dreamer and reader of grand adventures in the back and beyond of Asia and one morning, after a much gin-fuelled read of “The Chalice of Hunn-Nee”,  began his recruiting drive.  He found a large body of men armed and looking for adventure and offered them images of riches and exotic lands.

Courtesy of his ‘procurement officer’, a rather daring individual who boarded commercial ships as they transversed the Suez Canal, asked for their shipping manifests (often at gunpoint) and removed whatever would be useful.  One such vessel was transporting suits of men’s civilian clothing. “Can’t be wearing our old khakis can we?”  To the Major’s liking, as they were of somber tones; to these were added bandoliers and, of course rifles, by far the easiest to obtain. Razors were rare however, much to some of the men’s delight.

The army was given its employment the day when the Major’s second, Piet Rasponse “Rasp” Berry asked scratching at his growing beard, “So where do we find this chalice?”
   Might did not look up from his worn atlas of Asia, “Well, Rasp, the Huun Nee is thought to reside in the Bai Lie Temple somewhere in the Imagitush Mountains.”
   “And how, pray tell, do we get to this ‘Bai Lie’ place?” asked Rasp.
    Pointing a finger somewhere on the old page, Might responded, “Through this Jhamjar region it appears.”

…So there is my backstory to why a bunch of Second Boer War figures would be in a remote section of Asia. But how they are to be deployed, whose side are they on, and their quality is yet to be determined.

Photos of Might's 'Army' on the trail to Jhamjar

Saturday, 25 April 2020

French Napoleonic Engineers

One of the scenarios from the "Rebels and Patriots" rules requires two engineer units of 6 figures each.  So I have one unit which is the process of preparing a river crossing while defending from enemy forces, and the other crossing the river to work on the other side of the waterway.

The clothed figures I believe are Black Hussar (nee Westphalian Miniatures).  The bare-chested lads are plastic ex-Warlord Celt torsos added to by the author.  A different headdress would change them to any era or army you wish.

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Oriskany , a AWI game

Battle of Oriskany, 1777

Considered part of the overall “Saratoga Campaign”, St. Leger’s advance down the Mohawk Valley to join Burgoyne’s army was halted to besiege Fort Stanwix.  A relieving column of Patriot militia was ambushed near Oriskany and the battle proved to be one of the most deadly of the Revolutionary War.

In this engagement, the British allied Natives lined the military road and caught the Americans unaware but who fought back desperately having nowhere to retreat.

With that as a basis, I set up my version with the troops I have available including my newly rebased Old Glory Woodland Indians repurposed for my burgeoning AWI collection.  Thus four groups of small units of militia escorted the wagon train as three small groups of natives were, by a dice roll, placed along the route.  It was to be short range musket fire and hand-to-hand fighting in this solo game (obviously in this COVID era...) of “Rebels and Patriots” of 12 points apiece

The natives ignored the lead militia unit having targeted the second unit from both sides of the path.  Shattered by gunfire from the woods and unable to respond in kind, the Americans were charged by one band of natives wiping them out. This band, now in the open, were in turn charged by the officered unit who were successful in forcing those natives to retire from the fight.

While this was occurring, to the rear of the column, the militia, who moved to protect the wagons, or ran to hide behind - you can make your own judgement! -  and the natives exchanged musket fire, slowly whittling away at each other’s willpower.  The natives broke first and disengaged, leaving the militia a shattered force holding the field with over a third as casualties.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Mon du, this water is cold!

Napoleonic French Pontoonier/Engineers

I came across a small bag of rather roughly cut nude torsos whilst digging in my boxes.  These were remnants of the re-attaching correct torso to the legs of a large group of Ancient Celtic warriors.  Found in the club's B&B,  the seller had obviously randomly glued bodies to legs not realizing until too late his mistakes and then gave up on the endeavour.  Some damaged torsos from my cutting of the offending bodies was the result.

But now I took a second look and thought they could be used.  The attached heads of some were removed, the torque neck chain scraped off as were any wrist bracelets, etc. The hands were utilized if possible, or removed and replaced with ones holding various construction implements and some with muskets from spare Zulus arms, among other sources.

The rather exaggerated wide-arm pose of these ex-Warlord ancients was kept but justifying the posing was challenging!  Much far reach of the mallet or shovel.  Waist high in water and not wanting your 'powder wet" the figures seem to be wishing to keep them dry, their cartridge boxes are bits of sprue frame and paper belts.  I added some more belting to be held to one of the musket men as my wife thought he was holding a purse!  I agreed sheepishly, so needed to do that alteration.  But she does enjoy their manly physiques.

To make them ‘Napoleonic’ I added some of the many spare heads giving them mostly French forage caps.  These now can be added to engineering units building a bridge across any contested river.

Saturday, 4 April 2020

a dark and snowy tale

The inventory guy says, “If you are interested in the mat, you should buy now as the next shipment will be over 30% higher due to our tanking dollar.”   Does one need any more encouragement than that?

So I took it home, laid out my new neoprene(mousepad) mat and thought, “Oh dear, there is more ‘ash’ dust on this than what was showing in the packaging…”   Clearly I would need to decide on “the look” of my two winter projects - What a Tanker, 1941 and The Retreat, 1812 -

I decided to separate the two as the re-painting of the bases of the Napoleonics would be a challenge.  The Retreat would remain with the bright white sheet, with the snow covered church while my burnt out buildings, tank traps, trees and fences basing will get a darker treatment.

So with a sigh, I attempt to blend in my terrain to the mat’s coloration of spotty extremely dark patches.  While it was trying, the result is now a more self-contained game; a more dark and less white almost dystopian in nature but was not the Eastern Front at the time like that?

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Medieval artillery

The ballpoint pen ran out of ink.  Of course I did not throw it away but I looked at it, took it apart and used the parts.  Hey, it is still part of the recycle, reuse, repurpose phrase is it not?  :)

The main "chassis" on this particular pen is quite thick and the inner dimension of the tube not so large.  Medieval casting of a cannon sized actually, and needing a cannon for my crew I set to work cutting the plastic tube after removing the inner ink tube (that to be used to allow me to envelope with a flag thus allowing it to be slipped over an existing standard-bearer wire pole to have different flags for the same unit).

The cut tube was placed within a balsa wood frame, itself reinforced by additional bits to handle the cannon's recoil.  Metal straps were of paper softened by a water and PVA(white glue) mixture.  The whole was then primed and painted.  A very quick, easy project which I "needed" to do.

While that is the medieval 'modern' version of artillery, they still had the old-fashioned weapon very much still in vogue (at least for a couple more years) in the shape of the catapult.  Here is one I came across in the fantasy section.  It comes already primed.  While the wood is probably a bit rough and weathered for realism,  I will be using it for objective purposes for scenarios (I don't have any figures suitable as crew at present).

Just piddling away at the many diverse projects I have on the go....

Thursday, 27 February 2020

40K Battle of the Comm-Tower

ChrisO having run a game of the Lord of the Rings the month before (the poor boy can only afford the time for one game during a month with work, wife and kids and their sports) converted Warhammer 40K stats to that for a favourite LotR rules so to have a go with our old 'veteran' 40K troops — four of us providing the troops not having brought out these guys for some 20+ years!
the defences with my Russian looking Valhallans (the effort was deliberate!) ready -but the dice not willing - to shoot up the oncoming Space Marines
Interesting scenario but, as usual, the dice rolling made things a bit one-sided as the Imperial Guard ‘patrols’ were not as effective,  not allowing the defenders of the communications tower to start shooting earlier and not having our reserves did not enter at an earlier turn;  and that, due to poor dice rolling (especially by me… as usual…) we could not hurt the oncoming Space Marines.   [Yes, it was a  40K “good vs. good” engagement.]
my depleted numbers vs 'the monster tin-can" ( photo by ChrisO )
the comm-tower to defend

I was happy to get my Valhallans (Russian looking chaps) on the table together with the slightly more recently painted plastic Cadians who I made into futuristic-ultra-modern  “United Nations Peacekeeping Force”  by scraping off all the Imperial Eagle logos and painting the armour bits in bright blue over camouflage uniforms. ( you can see them in the photo above ).  Can’t take this 40K stuff too seriously…….
my squad of dismounted tankers

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Medieval BYOB

Having a holiday Monday available,   I invited some of the boys over for a “get them out of the box if you got ‘em” or in other words  "Bring You Own 'Battle'"  medieval tilt using Lion Rampant.  There were 14th century types, a 11th C. “El Cid” contingent, a Lord of the Rings force, and a War of the Roses retinue!
Did not really matter as they did great slaughter on the fictional Crypt Hill.

The battle scenario was set up by the players themselves as the respective sides could pick a, b or c options and then I would compare and match these maneuvers to prepared maps of my table.  Thus a very different set up to the usual bland and uninspiring  “You guys on that side and we on this side.  Start 8 inches on the table.” game.
Also introduced on the moment was my card system so each player was given a number of shuffled playing cards equal to the number of units he currently deployed, the player having, say, the #4 card could play any of his remaining unactivated units during the fourth round of the turn.  Each side would play its 4th unit with the one side always going first in this version of IGOUGO.  After the end of all units activation attempt,  the cards are shuffled and so a different sequence is produced for each side.  As the sequence is not known, so a nice unpredictability of action is the result.

Photos of the action.